Corporate Citizenship

Training Optometrists for the Future
Bringing the Miracle of Sight to People in Rural Communities

Sep. 30, 2013

Professor. Dr. Chen Ai Hong (UiTM Optometry Head of department) and Mr Saiful Azlan Rosli

Professor. Dr. Chen Ai Hong (UiTM Optometry Head of department) and Mr Saiful Azlan Rosli

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) is Malaysia´s largest institution of higher learning. With 12 branch campuses and a workforce of 17,000, UiTM is home to some 172,000 students. The Faculty of Health Sciences Optometry Department is housed on the Puncak Alam Campus, about 30 kilometers from the country´s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Here, around 160 students in total are mastering the professional knowledge and skills needed to be an optometrist. Hoya Lens Malaysia (HOLM) opened the Hoya Lens Simulation Center and the Hoya Laboratory Model in UiTM´s Optometry Department to support the training and development of optometrists for the future.

UiTM´s Optometry Department launched a mobile optometry clinic that travels to rural communities throughout Malaysia, and HOLM also decided to participate in this outreach program. By supporting UiTM, HOLM is helping to train and develop eye care professionals and make appropriate lenses widely available to everyone.

Outreach Program: Bridging the Gap between Rural and Urban Areas
People waiting for eye test inside mobile clinic

People waiting for eye test inside mobile clinic

In Malaysia, the percentage of the population using some type of vision correction is said to be 50% in urban areas, compared with a national average of 30% and just 10 to 20% in rural areas. UiTM´s Optometry Department runs an outreach program to provide free glasses to people living in rural areas who cannot get routine eye tests.

In rural areas, some villages have no doctors and are several hours away from the nearest clinic, and in some cases the only means of transport is boat. Economic and other considerations mean that glasses are not widely worn in such areas. Sometimes, children with poor vision are unable to read the blackboard. UiTM aims to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas through the mobile clinic. It sends optometry students and staff out to rural areas in a large bus loaded with eye testing equipment, offering routine eye tests on a walk-in basis. If an eye test determines the need for vision correction, HOLM will work with a frame manufacturer to provide glasses that will be delivered at a later date. UiTM aims to make this program into a long-term project and to reach Malaysians in every corner of the country.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and project members

Malaysia´s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and project members

The project has won support from companies that agree with the aim of making eye care widely available throughout Malaysia, and HOLM is also playing its part, providing lenses as a leader in the eye care industry. Hopefully, this project will run for a long time and glasses will become widely used in rural areas.

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